Three MTSU courses have joined the IncludED program to offer free digital text books to students in the fall of 2015. In association with the Follett Higher Education Group, all University 1010 courses as well as select physical science and astronomy courses will be offering digital copies of their textbooks to students.
IncludED is an initiative designed to encourage the continued enrollment and success of college students, according to Jeff Whitwell, store manager of the Phillips Bookstore.
“Overtime, there became a glaring student cry because, well, book (costs) are high. College is high. Parking tickets are high, you know,” Whitwell said, gesturing to a yellow envelope containing a campus parking ticket that one of his employees had received that day. “But, as a vender, we listen to our customers. Our customers being not only the students, but the faculty…the program is implemented completely by faculty choice.”
Follett owns Phillips Bookstore as well as hundreds of other campus bookstores across the country where various faculty members have already taken on parts of the IncludED initiative, to encourage student success.
“MTSU agreed to implement the program and offer free digital copies of the text in all of the University 1010 courses, and then a few other professors came to us and said they wanted to try it in their classes,” Follett said.
MTSU professors Irena Paranova (Physical Science 1030), Janaruth Ford (Astronomy 1030) and John Wallin (Astronomy 1030) will be implementing the system and offering the text books as free digital copies in the fall of 2015.
“Well, we’ve all seen students not know if they need the book or not, so they wait and order it the first week. Then, it’s a few weeks before they get the book, so they get behind and have to drop the class,” Whitwell said. “By negotiating with publishers, we can offer digital texts as part of the class fee, so it’s a lot cheaper and everyone has what they need to succeed.”
The standard text for University 1010 costs $139.75, whereas the ebook costs $60.98, and, as part of the course fees, can be covered by scholarships and financial aid, unlike a standard text book. With over a 50% price cut in books and around 550 students enrolled in university 1010, this class alone will save students an estimated $43,000 this semester.
While only a few professors have adopted the initiative, Whitwell is hopeful for its future success at MTSU.
“I think it will be a wonderful thing and help so many students,” Whitwell said. “Our next step is pitching it to the faculty senate later this month…we hope more faculty will accept the program, but even if we just help a few classes, it will make a difference for sure.”